Joined-up marketing is remarkably challenging to achieve, that’s what it is! You might think that you’re focused on making your business a success and so naturally will ensure all your marketing is joined-up and driving in the same direction; i.e. success for your business. This seems reasonable enough in the big picture but often the reality doesn’t match up to this ideal. In this article, I am looking at some of the real-world challenges you can face while striving to make sure your marketing is joined-up.
Different people, different ideas
Diversity is great. Different people having different ways of thinking about things can be immensely valuable in a business where creativity and problem-solving are essential skills. However, when it comes to marketing, diversity can be a double-edged sword. Certainly, coming up with new and interesting ways to communicate with your market and engage your contacts is a good thing. But this should be balanced against the need to ensure that you aren’t confusing your audience by saying different things in different ways. If a potential customer is confused by your marketing, they will be less confident to do business with you. They will be uncertain as to what to expect from you.
Sales or Brand Awareness? What is the plan?
Probably the most common way in which marketing communication can get mixed is on the core question:
What is your objective from marketing activity?
Communication to build awareness and understanding (Brand Development) is quite different from communication to generate leads and opportunities (Sale Promotion). While there is often an overlap between these 2 objectives, it is important to be clear in your own mind, which is the priority for a given piece of marketing. Make sure your message is clear even if this means it is only part of your overall proposition. One of the advantages of marketing communication today is the range of ways you can talk to your customers and markets. With many having low (or no) cost, you don’t have to try to get everything you want to say into one message. Split your marketing into bite-sized chunks with each chunk having a very clear objective. In this way, you can mix brand building and sales promotion over time but each individual communication has a clear message.
While different communications can have different objectives, your overall message must be consistent. This can mean not only WHAT you are saying but also HOW you say it. I mentioned the wide range of marketing tools that are out there. Just because you can use a particular tool doesn’t mean you should. Probably the best example here is Social Media. With so many different platforms out there, DON’T try to use them all! Think about the type of people who use a particular platform (LinkedIn for business, Facebook for social is an obvious one) and also when and how people use a platform. Then you aim to select the options which line up best with the type of message you want to communicate. This way, you can hopefully find an audience that is going to be most receptive to your information. Regarding what you say, don’t just check whether your message fits consistently with your overall marketing plan. A good trick is to put yourself in the mind of your customer. Is it possible they might understand your message differently? It might be that you said what you meant to say but is it possible you might also have inadvertently suggested something you didn’t mean to say!
Stick at it.
In a busy business, it is easy to let marketing slip. It doesn’t impact on anyone but you and even you normally don’t feel the effect for a few weeks or more. However, even if you start your marketing when the impact does hit, you will still have to wait those same few weeks or more before the effects of your marketing start to show through. This can be painful. The best and joined-up solution is to never stop marketing. It’s OK to sometimes do less marketing while other times you ‘turn the gas up‘. The important thing is to have a forward plan, and ideally, a plan that does allow some flexibility. There is no question in my mind that the best way to make sure you stick at your marketing is to have a clear action plan, review it regularly and keep evolving it. You should never get to the end!
Remember: Joined-up marketing is a process, not an event